Asuncion — Hundreds of inmates rioted on Tuesday and took dozens of hostages at the overcrowded Tacumbu prison, the largest in Paraguay, according to authorities and AFP journalists at the scene.
Justice Minister Angel Barchini said the government is “monitoring everything that is happening” at the prison in the capital Asuncion.
He did not confirm press reports that the prison’s director, Adan Jesus Gonzalez, had been captured by the inmates.
According to AFP journalists and images broadcast by television channels, many detainees took up positions on the roof of the main prison building, throwing stones at the police.
Large flames were visible inside, caused by burning mattresses.
The rioters took 10 guards hostage, as well as about 30 women who came to visit detained relatives, according to police spokespersons at the scene.
Riot Breaks Out in Paraguay’s Largest Prison as Inmates Take 11 Guards Hostage and Set Facilities Ablaze#Paraguay #ParaguayPrison #Tacumbu #TacumbuPenitentiary #ParaguayRiots #BNN #Worldnews #Dailynews #Breakingnews #Newsupdate pic.twitter.com/VTyrISStyA
— Ruchi Bhargava (@ruchib1975) October 11, 2023
Tacumbu prison houses around 3 000 inmates, or 607 percent of its theoretical capacity, criminologist Juan Martens told AFP.
“The prison is controlled by members of the Rotela Clan, an organization dedicated to drug trafficking in Asuncion and its surroundings,” he said.
The violence comes after the justice minister last week announced a plan “to regain power in the penitentiary centers”, where the Rotela Clan and Brazilian gangs reign supreme.
Barchini had warned that the plan would “cost human lives.”
The Tacumbu rioters have demanded Barchini’s resignation to end the unrest.
Paraguay, a country of 6.5 million inhabitants, has around 16,000 inmates spread across 18 prisons.
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